The secret stories of bookplates

Japanese bookplates

The University of Sydney Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections is pleased to bring you a new exhibition: a collection of bookplates drawn from the Colin Berckelman Personal Papers Collection. The physical display can be found on Level 4, Fisher Library, but you can also view the exhibition online, in the post below.


‘The Beautiful, Artistic, and Quaint’: International Connectivity and 20th Century Bookplates

Curated by Finlay MacKenzie, Master of Museum and Heritage Studies, University of Sydney


From 14th century BCE Egypt onwards, people have marked books as their own by furnishing them with bookplates, or decorative labels. While the use of bookplates fell in and out of fashion over subsequent centuries, the peak of bookplate production and ownership in the early- to mid-20th century saw these ‘beautiful, artistic, and quaint’ items reach an unprecedented level of popularity and accessibility. Along with this rise in prominence came the practice of collecting and exchanging bookplates belonging to others, reflecting an ever more globalised and connected world. Societies were formed, exhibitions held, and global exchange networks established as people traded duplicate bookplates in their own collections for more elusive or desirable designs.

The Berckelman Collection, amassed by the Sydney-based bibliophile Colin Berckelman from the early 1900s until his death in the 1960s, gives a rich glimpse into the lively world of bookplate collection in the early- to mid-20th century. As an active collector and member of several Australian and international bookplate societies, Colin Berckelman gathered bookplates from across the world through correspondence and travel. The variety of bookplates he collected and the stories they brought with them speak to the level of international communication and connection which existed at this time, and Australia’s position within a global network of artists, collectors, and book-lovers.

Bookplates in Australia

The emerging international craze for bookplate production, use, and collection in the early 20th century quickly reached Australia. Numerous local, regional, and national bookplate societies were established, and the work of Australian bookplate designers was sought not only by Australian collectors but by bookplate enthusiasts overseas. The surviving material paints a picture of a thriving and colourful world of collecting which established itself in bookstores, meeting-rooms, and mailing lists.

Bookplate printed on paper, showing a pair of magpies and labelled ‘Colin B. Berckelman’ and ‘Ex Libris’. The design is dated to 1930 and attributed to the Australian artist Sydney Long.
Berckelman Collection Item 1004 | 1930 | Sydney Long

Like many collectors of books and bookplates, Colin Berckelman made use of several personal bookplate designs throughout his life, employing them at different times or for different literary genres. This design, created in 1930, may have been a favourite of his, as he appears to have used and reproduced it extensively, and likely sent copies to other collectors both within and outside Australia.

Pamphlet discussing the rise in popularity of bookplates in Australia, by P. Neville Barnett for the Australian Ex Libris Society.
Berckelman Collection Item 1006 | date unknown | P. Neville Barnett

This early- to mid-20th century pamphlet by P. Neville Barnett, a noted Australian author on the subject of bookplates, describes the shift of bookplate artistry in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. As acceptable imagery began to extend beyond heraldic designs, he describes the ‘beautiful, artistic, and quaint’ bookplate designs of the period as responsible for their greater accessibility, and hence their increased popularity. He attributes the popularity of bookplates in Australia to the high quality of Australian bookplate artists, many of whom were women. Notably, he observes that Australian bookplate societies attracted members not only from Australia and New Zealand but from around the world.

Letter from Herbert Wauthier to the Sydney Bookplate society, describing his position as the managing director of a prominent London metalworking company and his interest in exchanging bookplates with Australian collectors.
Berckelman Collection Item 1007 | 1949 | Herbert Wauthier

This letter, written by the managing director of a London metalworking company to the Sydney Bookplate Society, illustrates the appeal which Australian bookplate-collecting circles held for international bookplate enthusiasts. In the letter, Herbert Wauthier describes his expectation of exchanging high-quality bookplates with Australian collectors, and offers to produce bookplate designs in exchange for membership. His letter also illustrates the difficulties which could be experienced in international communication during this period – he expresses a concern that he may not be able to pay his membership fee due to currency regulations!

International bookplates in Australia

Through personal correspondence and society membership, large numbers of bookplates produced internationally were sent to Australia. Colin Berckelman received many such bookplates through various means, whether from bookplate enthusiasts overseas or from other Australians who had collected them. The variety of designs show the increased freedom of acceptable bookplate imagery, and the ways in which bookplates could be adapted to reflect local tastes. Furthermore, the correspondence which accompanied these bookplates demonstrates the enthusiasm for people in the early- to mid-20th century to establish international connections and exchange networks.

Collection of bookplates sent to Colin Berckelman, two with inscriptions in the Russian alphabet, one with an English inscription, and one possibly with a Czech inscription.
Berckelman Collection Item 699 | date unknown | creator unknown

Although the provenance of bookplates in Colin Berckelman’s collection is not always recorded, the diversity of names and scripts suggests their places of origin. It is unknown whether this group was collated by an international or an Australian collector. However, an assemblage of bookplates like these shows how bookplates from various sources could be distributed together, increasing the reach of international exchange.

Scrapbook decorated with Japanese text and designs, containing numerous Japanese-style bookplates.
Berckelman Collection Item 674 | date unknown | creator unknown

Whilst most of Colin Berckelman’s bookplate collection originated from Australia, America, or Europe, some examples also illustrate the presence of bookplate production and exchange in Asia. The Japanese bookplates in this scrapbook show the adaptation of the bookplate format according to local Japanese aesthetics and artistic styles. Whether they were acquired through correspondence or during a visit to Japan, these bookplates highlight the breadth of bookplate-collecting networks, and the ability of such simple items to bring together people from across the world.

Exhibition catalogue for the Bookplate Association International’s sixth annual exhibition, 1930, containing lists of bookplate designers organised by country and a list of prize-winning designs.
Berckelman Collection Item 646 | 1930 | creator unknown

Bookplate exhibitions were relatively common in the early- to mid-20th century, with bookplates from various artists, owners, or collectors being brought together for display. This catalogue is from an exhibition held in Los Angeles, which displayed the work of bookplate artists from various countries. Represented countries were primarily located in Europe or were European colonies, such as Italy, Java, Latvia, and the Netherlands. In accordance with this, Australian bookplates were featured in the exhibition, with bookplates by famous Australian bookplate artists being displayed.

Sending bookplates overseas

Bookplate collectors seeking to expand their own collections and exchange bookplates with others often turned to the mailing lists of bookplate societies, where members could list their details and addresses in the hopes of receiving correspondence. Colin Berckelman’s collection includes a large number of letters and attached bookplates sent to him by fellow international collectors, many of whom located him through such mailing lists. These letters show the range of his personal correspondence, and the diversity of people who could be connected through the practice of bookplate collecting.

Letter from Gertrude Morgan Hawley to Colin Berckelman describing her interest in modern woodcuts and stating that she has enclosed a copy of her own bookplate design and is seeking Australian bookplates in return.
Berckelman Collection Item 702 | 1930 | Gertrude Morgan Hawley

Women were involved not only in the creation of bookplate designs, but also in the collecting and exchange of bookplates themselves. The owner of this bookplate, Miss Gertrude Morgan Hawley of New York, discovered Colin Berckelman through an exchange list of bookplate collectors, and wrote to him requesting examples of Australian woodcut designs. Her references to the artists Adrian Feint and Lionel Lindsay indicate the regard with which some Australian artists were held in bookplate-collecting circles internationally.

Collection of bookplates sent to Colin Berckelman by Manuel A. Ortiz, originating from Portugal. Two belonged to Ortiz himself, and one originated from another collector.
Berckelman Collection Item 701 | 1932/1933 | Manuel A. Ortiz

A bookplate collector from Lisbon, Manuel A. Ortiz, sent these bookplates to Colin Berckelman alongside a letter addressed to the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers and the Australian ExLibris Society. In the letter, he describes his interest in bookplates from the United States, and asks the recipient to send him American bookplates in return for the Portuguese bookplates he has attached. While he does not seem to have been acquainted with either society before writing this letter, they presumably seemed to him to be accessible sources of bookplates, indicating the significance of Australian bookplate collectors in international exchange.

Bookplates with Czech inscriptions and pre-written letter with a message in Czech, German, French, English, and Esperanto, and some unfilled passages completed.
Berckelman Collection Item 701 | date unknown | creator unknown

In some cases, bookplate collectors looking to exchange bookplates with collectors from other countries encountered language barriers. When this occurred, pre-written letters in an established format could be used to communicate requests, with space for the sender to write in how many bookplates they were sending or wished to receive. This example, sent to Colin Berckelman by the Czechoslovakian bookplate designer and collector Ctibor Šťastný, delivers its message not only in the standard languages of German, French, and English, but also in Czech and the constructed international language Esperanto. It accompanied a selection of Czech bookplates designed either for or by Šťastný, with their varying designs including an owl in an art deco style, a relatively standard depiction of books and a candle, and a praying mantis with a Portuguese slogan.

In the modern world of rapid and extensive interconnectivity, it is easy to imagine the world of the past as slower-paced and far less open. However, the picture painted by Colin Berckelman’s bookplate collection is vastly different. Despite the issues of language barriers or currency restrictions which could arise, communities such as bookplate collectors found ways of corresponding and sharing their interest, whether through travel to attend international exhibitions, writing to collectors in other countries, or simply obtaining internationally-produced bookplates from collectors closer to home. It is perhaps surprising that such a small and incongruous object as a bookplate should have attracted so much attention from so many people. But bookplates could easily be viewed as emblematic of a new and modern world in the early- to mid-20th century – a world which brought together people from across the globe in a shared enthusiasm for the ‘beautiful, artistic, and quaint’.

All material in this online exhibition is drawn from the Colin Berckelman Personal Papers Collection. Colin Blake Berckelman (1907-1965) was an Australian bibliophile, author, amateur photographer, and collector of material relating to books, bookplates, and printing material. The collection encompasses a broad ranger of topics, particularly relating to Australian social history, including politics, business and commerce, early settlement history, architecture, literature, and the arts. Following Berckelman’s death in 1965, the collection was acquired by the University of Sydney Library. It is now held by the University of Sydney Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. The physical display of this exhibition can be found on Level 4, Fisher Library.

Lockdown Discoveries – part 1

Lockdown Discovery Exhibition

Lockdown Discoveries is an exhibition currently on display at Rare Books & Special Collections in Fisher Library. Due to COVID restrictions preventing access to some people, we’ve created a series of blog posts to ensure no-one misses out.

The Lockdown Discoveries exhibition presents highlights from the Ron Graham Science Fiction collection, handpicked and curated by the RBSC Cataloguing Project Team. This is Part 1 of our blog about the exhibition. Read Part 2 and Part 3.

Ron Graham’s collection

Ronald E. Graham collected science fiction for more than 50 years and his collection contains almost complete holdings (up to 1979) of commercially published American, English and Australian science fiction magazines.

Graham had encyclopaedic knowledge of early science fiction; he was the publisher of Vision of Tomorrow magazine and the co-owner of the first science fiction bookshop in Australia, Space Age Books (originally named The Space Age Bookshop), until his death in 1979. Fisher Library is very fortunate to be the custodian of Graham’s extensive private library.

Read more about the Ron Graham Science Fiction collection.

Inscriptions

Mass printed books can occasionally become valuable when a copy is inscribed by the author or perhaps a famous owner. Attributes such as autographs, inscriptions, bookplates and decorations may provide insight into the life, friendships and personality of authors. Take for example, the inscriptions written by the author, Ben Bova, to the science fiction enthusiast, Ron Graham. There are more than 40 Ben Bova books in Graham’s collection, many of them signed with a personal message. It is gratifying to observe how friendships develop between an author and a fan.

Front cover and inscription of Flight of Exiles by Ben Bova.
Flight of Exiles
Ben Bova, 1972
New York: Dutton
Graham SF 7168
Front cover and inscription of Exiled from earth by Ben Bova
Exiled from Earth
Ben Bova, 1971
New York: Dutton
Graham SF 07167
Front cover and inscription of Escapre by Ben Bova
Escape!
Ben Bova, 1970
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Graham SF 05440
Book cover of The Duelling Machine
The Duelling Machine
Ben Bova, 1969
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Graham SF 07165
Book cover of The Weathermakers
The Weathermakers
Ben Bova, 1968
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Graham SF 07176

Discover more inscriptions

There may be more hidden inscriptions in books ready to be discovered. You can find books with unique attributes in the collection by using Advanced search in the Library’s catalogue. Enter the call number Graham SF and the keyword inscribed (or bookplate, depending on your interest). This search will retrieve a list of titles that have these attributes.

Screenshot of Advanced Search

Bookplates

A bookplate, also known as ex-librīs (Latin for ‘from the books or library’), is a printed or decorative label inserted into a book, usually on the front endpaper to indicate the name of the book’s owner.

What fascinated me while cataloguing the Graham SF collection were the bookplates. I adored the artistic designs, some simple and others with amazing detail. The thought that the item once belonged to a certain person, made me wonder about the history of the book. How it was housed? In a large personal library or in a box sitting in the basement? Did it travel around before it landed in Ron Graham’s collection?

Often, bookplates reflect the owner’s position in society, or in this instance, their passion for science fiction.

Here is one of Ron Graham’s personal bookplates. The designer of the bookplate is not known.

Bookplate of Children of the Atom
Children of the Atom
Wilmar H. Shiras, 1954
London: Boardman
Graham SF 01028

Another bookplate for Ron Graham was designed by the artist, Virgil Finlay. Finlay was one of the most popular illustrators for pulp magazines, particularly Weird Tales and Famous Fantastic Mysteries. The bookplate illustration below was also used as the cover of the fanzine The Mentor, number 19.

Bookplate of Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship
Tom Swift and his Rocket Ship
Victor Appleton II; illustrated by Graham Kaye, 1954
New York: Grosset & Dunlap
Graham SF 01325

Not only is this bookplate aesthetically pleasing but it reveals that the books previously belonged to the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1916-1922). David Lloyd George was one of Britain’s most well-known figures of the 20th century, best known for guiding Britain through the First World War. Lloyd George had a personal library and part of that collection is now housed at the University of Kent.

Bookplate of Black Light
Black Light
Talbot Mundy, 1930
London: Hutchinson
Graham SF 09280

The bookplate below caught my attention as it has a ‘royal’ look to it. Sir William Gordon-Cumming 4th Baronet was a friend of Edward, Prince of Wales (later known as King Edward VII). Interestingly, Sir William Gordon-Cumming was involved in the great baccarat scandal of 1890 that ultimately changed the course of his life.

Bookplate of Sunrise Stories
Sunrise Stories: A Glance at the Literature of Japan
Roger Riordan & Tozo Takayanagi, 1896
London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.
Graham SF 09555

Aside from Ron Graham’s bookplates, the bookplate I have seen most often is that of John Carnell. Carnell was a British editor, especially known for New Worlds (1946-64), New Writings (1964-75), and Science Fantasy (1951-64). John Carnell is known to his friends as either Ted or John which is evidenced in quite a few of the books in Ron Graham’s collection, with inscriptions from countless authors addressing him as Ted.

Bookplate in The World Aflame
World Aflame: The Russian-American War of 1950
Leonard Engel & Emanuel S. Piller, 1947
New York: Dial Press
Graham SF 07876

Great women of science fiction

In what has long been perceived as a male bastion, women have made their mark and continue to shape and challenge the limits of the science fiction genre. Let’s look at three of these amazing women and their contributions.

Andre Norton (1912–2005)

Andre Norton
Andre Norton

Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton) was a female writer who chose to adopt a male pseudonym to compete in a predominantly male market. The first female Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master challenged gender barriers introduced new ideas to the genre, and went on to become one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time.

Aimed at a young adult audience, Norton blended the genres of science fiction and sword and sorcery in her highly successful Witch World saga. Spell of the Witch World, a collection of three short stories, provides a good introduction to the Witch World.

Book cover of Spell of the Witch World
Spell of the Witch World
Andre Norton, 1972
New York: DAW Books
Graham SF 17825

Ursula Le Guin (1929–2018)

Ursula Le Guin
Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin, one of the most influential writers the science fiction genre has ever known, was declared a Living Legend by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2000. Le Guin was strongly influenced by her interests in anthropology and feminism throughout a career that spanned almost 60 years.

In The Left Hand of Darkness, an envoy is sent to report on the inhabitants of an icy planet, only to find a people who have developed only one gender. This novel delves into the themes of sex and gender. One of the genre’s first feminist novels, and considered its most famous study of androgyny, this book led to a new progressive era in science fiction.

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness
The Left Hand of Darkness
Ursula Le Guin, 1969
New York: Ace Books
Graham SF 13916

Joanna Russ (1937–2011)

Joanna Russ
Joanna Russ

Joanna Russ was a true pioneer of feminist science fiction who believed the genre was a perfect platform for radical ideas. Written with an undertone of anger and wit, there can be no doubt of the focus on gender and sex in the more than 50 short stories and novels penned by this award-winning author.

The Female Man is the story of four women from parallel worlds. When they cross to each other’s worlds they explore and question the constraints of gender in their imaginary societies. Considered one of the most influential works in feminist literature, this novel will expand your notions of the science fiction genre.

Book cover of The Female Man
The Female Man
Joanna Russ, 1975
New York: Bantam Books
Graham SF 15501

Lockdown Discoveries was curated by the Rare Book & Special Collections Cataloguing Project Team: Vicky Chiu, Simon Cooper, Tonia Fossey, Chingmy Lam, Hiyori Ogawa, Phuong Pham, Liz Ray, Theresia Sandjaja, Dannielle Williams & some other guy.

This is part 1 of a three-part blog series. Read Part 2 and Part 3 or learn more about the Lockdown Discoveries exhibition generally.

The Lockdown Discoveries exhibition is located at:
Rare Books & Special Collections
Open: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm
Phone: +61 2 9351 2992
Email: rarebook.library@sydney.edu.au

Calling all hand-craft printers and printmakers!

For the third year running, we are excited to announce applications for the 2020 Printer in Residence Program are now open!

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2019 Printer in Residence Barbara Campbell at work creating a print.

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The Library is calling for applications from letterpress printers and artists in printing or book arts, for a residency of 8 weeks, to take place during Semester 2, 2020. The residency is acquisitive and supported by payment of $7,000.

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Now in its third year, the 2020 Printer in Residence program returns to increase awareness of the Piscator Press and to encourage an ongoing enthusiasm for material book arts within the University. We also aim to foster; a creative dialogue between print and digital processes, experimentation, and active engagement with library users.
Letterpress printmakers and book artists are invited to propose a project for a print publication or creative work to be made in the workshop and completed during an 8-week residency.

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2018 Printer in Residence Wendy Murray giving a workshop on printing during her residency.

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Applications close Sunday 1st March, 2020 at 11.59pm. Further information and application details can be found on the Library’s website.

Did you know the Library houses an extremely rare copy of Principia with hand written notes by Newton?

Safely resting in the archives of our Library lives a copy of the text that rewrote the rule book on Earth and space Principia (Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica), recently featured on ABC’s 7.30 report.

Title page of The Principia, 1687. 

First published in 1687, the text is one of the most important books on natural philosophy in which Newton establishes the modern science of dynamics and outlines his three laws of motion.

The University of Sydney copy is one of only four known copies that were sent by Newton and his assistant Roger Cotes to other mathematicians in order to eliminate any errors in a second edition. The other copies are all located in the Northern Hemisphere – two in the University of Cambridge Library and one in the Library of Trinity College.

The report uncovers how the Library came to have this important copy and the significance of the rare text.

Re-watch the story online, read the University’s media release or explore Principia online via our Digital Collections.

PopFest at the Library – Browse our iconic manga 漫画 collection

As part of USU’s PopFest, the Library is exhibiting a selection of iconic manga from our collection titled: From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection.

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production

Deemed by some as rooted in the twelfth-century scrolls of illustrated stories, manga (漫画) – literally meaning dispersed, uncontrolled, careless, free-form, excessive drawings and translated as comics or graphic novels – became a successful cultural export of Japan during the twentieth century. Since its entry into the domain of popular culture first in Japan and then around the world, it has established itself as a unique art and literary form diverging greatly on styles as well as subject matters. This exhibition showcases some of the iconic works of manga from the Library’s East Asian Collection. Want to see more? Go explore our extensive manga collection on level 9, Fisher Library. 

少女漫画 Girls’ manga or純情漫画 “Pure love” manga

少女漫画 [shōjo manga] is manga intended primarily for young female readership, as opposed to 少年漫画 [shōnen manga], manga for teen boys. Often considered as not so much a genre but a category by target audience, and sometimes disregarded and passed as inferior as are many things created and appreciated by women, shōjo manga is in fact a distinct and distinguished genre in itself that made space for women creators and readership in the manga world, opening possibilities for alternative characters, narratives, and sensibilities beyond the battles and adventures of robots, pirates, and samurai. From this genre many auteurs and masterpieces emerged, some that may today seem conventional and others subversive, yet all worth consideration 

Cover image, ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 

ベルサイユのばら = La rose de Versailles

La rose de Versailles, affectionately nicknamed ベルバラ [berubara], is a classic of the classics in the genre of 少女漫画 [shōjo manga]. Also known as Lady OscarBerubara tells a story of two main characters: Oscar and Marie Antoinette. Both are caught in the political and romantic whirlwind against the backdrop of pre- and post-revolutionary France. Oscar is especially conflicted between their duty as the commander of the Royal Guard and their sympathy with the revolution. 

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 1, pp. 212-213. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 

It first appeared in May 1972 in the Margaret (マーガレット[Māgaretto]) magazine, which ran weekly then. After the final episode was published in the magazine in 1973, a forty-episode anime television series of Berubara was released in 1979. The series gained a huge national following during its first run until 1980, achieving cult status in Japan and overseas thereafter. Consequently, it was rerun numerous times until very recently. Berubara has also been made into Takarazuka (宝塚), Japanese all-female musical theatre, since 1974. 

ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 9, prologue. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production 
ベルサイユのばら <完全版>, vol. 9, pp. 10-11. ©Ikeda Riyoko Production
Cover image of the DVD set ベルサイユのばら ©池田理代子∙TMS 
Title page, ガラスの仮面, vol. 1. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976

ガラスの仮面 = The Glass mask

The Glass mask is a manga written and illustrated by Miuchi Suzue that first appeared in shōjo manga magazine Hana to yume (花と, “Flowers and dreams”) in 1976. It is a story of two ambitious and talented young women, the protagonist Maya and her rival Ayumi, striving to reach the highest level of the art of acting as well as to achieve their career goals. 

First scene introducing the protagonist, ガラスの仮面, vol. 1. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976 

One of the bestselling shōjo manga (over 50 million copies by 2006), Garasu no kamen is still running, the most recent volume being volume 49 published in 2012. Known to be a perfectionist, Miuchi does not release new episode easily or often. She is now 68 years old and her readership, of all genders and ages, is wishing her all the best and looking desperately forward to the next volumes. One fan aged over 80 said in an interview that her last wish would be to be able read the finale of Garasu no kamen in her lifetime. A Musical based on Garasu no kamen is scheduled to premiere in 2020, for which Miuchi is writing the scenario. 

Introduction to main characters, ガラスの仮面, vol. 43. ©Suzue Miuchi 1976 
Title page, ナナ, vol. 2. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000

ナナ = Nana

Fast forward to 1999, when Nana was created by Yazawa Ai. Nana first appeared in josei-and-shōjo (女性・少女, “women and girls”) manga magazine Cookie (クッキー), and started as a series in 2000, running until June 2009. It soon became one of the bestselling shōjo manga, selling over 34.5 million copies by 2006. In 2009 Yazawa fell ill and stopped creating Nana, leaving the story unfinished with forty-seven episodes so far. Meanwhile, monograph series was published by Shūeisha (集英社) in twenty-one volumes. 

 Title page, ナナ, vol. 6. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

Nana is a story that evolves around the lives of two seemingly opposite women, both of whose names are Nana: one Komatsu Nana (小松奈々), the other Ōsaki Nana (大崎ナナ). Komatsu comes from a care-free home with her naïve outlook and dependent personality. Ōsaki on the other hand was a teenage runaway who is now a depressed and anxious punk rock singer. At the age of twenty-one, both end up heading to the big city, Tokyo, for a new chapter in their lives. The pair meets for the first time on their train to Tokyo and then get to live together in their new city, where one is looking for musical success and fame while the other seeks love and stability. 

Ōsaki Nana on stage, with the text reading : ”I thought that if I can’t make it as a pro, there’s something wrong with this world.”, ナナ, vol. 7. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

With the pages turning, the reader follows their journey in friendship and solidarity, while clumsily and painfully navigating their new surroundings, relationships, work, and passion. One can surely call Nana a type of twenty-first century coming-of-age tale of two young women, that cannot be told without female friendship taking centre stage. 

A double-page spread from ナナ, vol. 2. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 
ナナ, vol. 6, pp. 110-111. © Yazawa Manga Seikakusho 2000 

子供向け漫画Children’s manga

子供向け漫画 [kodomo muke manga], or simply 子供漫画 [kodomo manga], is manga for children. Usually of a shorter length and telling simpler stories, children’s manga often features children themselves as main characters and contains educational content. Many children grow up reading manga, alone in their rooms and socially amongst friends. They read manga during their bus or subway trip to and back from school, during class breaks, and hanging out with friends after school. They borrow manga books from libraries, save up their pocket money to purchase new releases, and circulate volumes amongst friends. Manga is part of their daily lives and a common reference and forms their childhood memory as they grow up. Researchers have shown that manga helps develop literacy in children by exposing them to complex visual narrative sequences. Through repeated practice in visual language, children’s ability to comprehend and create narratives is increased. More researchers are finding that children who read manga also read more of other materials compared to those who do not, and grow up to be avid readers in general. 

Title page, ドラえもん, vol. 44. ©藤子プロ1974 

ドラえもん = Doraemon

Doraemon is an iconic and much beloved children’s manga series created by 藤子・F・不二雄  [Fujiko F. Fujio], nom de plume of the manga artist duo 藤本弘 [Fujimoto Hiroshi] and 安孫子素雄 [Abiko Motoo]. Doraemon first appeared in 1969 in an educational magazine for school children and in 月刊コロコロコミック (“Monthly Korokoro Comics”), both published by 小学館 [Shōgakukan], a publishing house specialising in primary education books. ロコロコ is a mimetic word describing a small, round object rolling. In January 1970, Doraemon became a regular appearance and the original series concluded with 1,345 short stories in total in 1996. Selected stories from the series were also published in monograph forms in 45 volumes from 1974 and 1996, which became one of the bestselling manga in the world, selling more than 100 million copies by 2015. 

The very first scene, ドラえもん, vol. 1. ©藤子プロ1974 

Doraemon is a story of a twenty-two-century robotic cat named Doraemon with special time-traveling powers who takes a boy, 野比のび太 [Nobi Nobita], on adventures anywhere and anytime: overseas, in the past, and into the future, while trying to help him with his troubles. Doraemon is in fact sent by a descendant of Nobita, and is equipped with all kind of futuristic gadgets. While each short story covers one problem to solve and has an ending, all stories have something in common: Doraemon uses his secret tools that magically appear from his pocket to help Nobita, but something somehow always goes wrong. 

©Fujiko-pro & Naomi Hirabayashi 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會

Doraemon was and still is extremely popular, and naturally grew to a huge franchise including anime series, e-book series, anime film, feature films, and video games, adored all around the world. Licensed merchandise is also very popular, generating billions of dollars globally. Doraemon collected many an award, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan appointed the character Doraemon as the nation’s first anime ambassador in 2008. 

©Fujiko-pro & Takashi Murakami /Kaikai Kiki 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會
©Fujiko-pro & Akira Onozuka 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會 
©Fujiko-pro & K. Hattori 2002, from Theドラえもん展 ©Theドラえもん展 製作委員會

Displayed are the manga Doraemon itself and the images of entries for the Doraemon exhibition subtitled ‘please make your own Doraemon’, held in Japan between 2002 and 2004. 

グルメ漫画 Gourmet manga

グルメ漫画 [gurume manga], gourmet manga, is manga on food that has established itself as a topical genre over time, starting with 包丁人味平 (Hōchōnin AjiheiAjihei the cook, 1973-1977). Deemed to be the very first work in the genre, Hōchōnin Ajihei was a series written by 牛次郎[Gyū Jirō] and illustrated by ビッグ錠 [Bikku Jō], published in Weekly shōnen jump. In this seminal work, Ajihei, son of a renowned and respected chef of traditional Japanese cuisine, decides to go on his own journey against his father’s wishes. To his father’s dismay, he decides to become best at making inexpensive yet delicious food for the people. Hōchōnin Ajihei tells a story of Ajihei’s development as a chef, including the obstacles and challenges he meets. It is filled with information on ingredients, dishes, and cooking techniques, and punctuated with many a cooking battle. Although this particular work is not held by the East Asian Collection, the building blocks of Gourmet manga established and developed in Hōchōnin Ajihei are evident in the succeeding titles held in the collection. The bubble economy during the 1980s and 1990s in Japan brought about a boom in gastronomy, and the gourmet manga also proliferated. 

Cover image, 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17. ©寺沢大介2000 

将太の寿司=Shōta no sushi

Shōta no sushi, “Shōta’s sushi”,  is a typical example of the subgenre of Gourmet manga, バトル物, “the battle type”, where the protagonist chef’s personal and professional growth is achieved through various cooking battles and competitions. Created by 寺沢大介 [Daisuke Terasawa] in 1992, the original series was published in Weekly shōnen magazine between 1992 and 1997, followed by a sequel series 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編 [Shōta no sushi : zenkoku taikai hen] from 1997 to 2000.

Shōta’s Sushi follows a teenage male apprentice sushi cook, Shōta, through his journey to becoming a specialist sushi chef. The story centres around Shōta solving problems and overcoming obstacles while competing in sushi tournament competitions, from regional preliminaries to nationals.

Character introduction, 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17. ©寺沢大介2000 
A “battle” scene from 将太の寿司 : 全国大会編, vol. 17, pp. 64-65. ©寺沢大介2000 
Cover image, 美味しんぼ, vol. 102. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2008 

美味しんぼ=Oishinbo

Unlike Shōta’s sushiOishinbo, “The Gourmet”, belongs to another subgenre of Gourmet manga called 情報物, “the information type”, although the boundaries are unclear. In this type of gourmet manga, information on ingredients, recipes, origins, traditions, and food-related social practices are central to the story. In line with such characteristics, Oishinbo often provides lengthy and detailed description of the dishes featured, accompanied by realistic and meticulous pictorial representation. 

A scene featuring abalone porridge from Jeju Island, 美味しんぼ, vol. 102, pp. 20-21. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2008

It follows two newspaper journalists Shirō and Yūko who are put in charge of the paper’s special centenary project titled <the perfect menu>. Written by 雁屋哲[Kariya Tetsu] and illustrated by 花咲アキラ[Hanasaki Akira], Oishinbo series was first published in 1983 and ran until suspension in 2014 on the pages of Big Comic Spirits. The monograph series was published in 111 volumes, and soon became one of the bestselling manga in the world, with the approximate sales over 130 million copies by 2008. Anime television series, television films, and live-action films were also released. 


From the ramen section in 美味しんぼ塾, pp. 18-19. ©Tetsu Kariya 2001 

Exhibited are the manga Oishinbo itself, along with two related materials: <美味しんぼ> をもっと美味しくする特别講義  (“Special lecture to make Oishinbo more delicious”), and; 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. 15(身も心も温まる!鍋料理) (“Oishinbo à la carte 15: nabe dishes to warm your body and mind”). 

Table of contents, 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2006 
Pages with Satomi’s oden  recipe, 美味しんぼア・ラ・カルト. ©Tetsu Kariya ∙ Akira Hanasaki 2006 

Browse more manga in our East Asian Collection 

Acknowledgement: 

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From slapdash drawings to an art form: Japanese manga from the East Asian Collection will be exhibiting in SciTech Library, from 9th September.

Celebrate USU’s PopFest from 11-13th September. Visit the USU website to see the line up of events including Photoshop for Insta! workshop and Beat Saber Challenge at ThinkSpace and Sphero Bowling and VR Escape Room at the International Student Lounge.

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Purple Pride: Bending Sydney Exhibition

As part of Wear It Purple Day, 2019 the Library is proud to present Bending Sydney: Camp Ink 1970-77, a new exhibition featuring material from Rare Books & Special Collections. The exhibition runs from 30 August – 30 September in Fisher Library and on our ThinkSpace video wall.

We will be decorating service points and rolling out the purple carpet! Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environment for young members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Photograph from a CAMP Inc demonstration, 6 October 1971. Photograph by Phillip Potter.

The exhibition Bending Sydney features material from CAMP Ink, which was the official publication of Sydney’s first lesbian and gay political organisation Campaign Against Moral Persecution. CAMP was co-founded in 1970 by John Ware and Christabel Poll to create a “safe space” for homosexual women and men to come together to discuss the issues of discrimination they were facing in Australia at the time.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition. Left Vol 2, No. 2/3, December 1971, January 1972. Right: Vol 4, No. 1, 1974

A CAMP Inc branch was established on the campus of The University of Sydney, and Rare Books & Special Collections now holds the collection of the group’s historical publication which was published from 1970 – 1977. This exhibition highlights these publications, which was a vital outlet for CAMP Inc.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition.
Left: No. 38, 1976. Right: Vol. 5, No. 2, 1976

The exhibition is curated by Library staff member Suzy Faiz. Suzy graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in 2017. Her work explores painting’s critical relevance within contemporary art. It ostensibly concentrates on painting and collage and primarily exhibits abstract tendencies coupled with the occasional inclusion of figurative elements. Suzy’s work has been exhibited locally and internationally and is included in private collections in Australia and Austria.


“As a young queer person, this exhibition has been particularly close to my heart. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the history of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ activism, without which we would not have the freedoms to express ourselves today.”

Suzy Faiz

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Explore the Bending Sydney Exhibition:

Fisher Library:, Level 4: Friday 30th August – Wednesday 16th October

ThinkSpace: Friday 30th August – Friday 13th September

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